On December 29, 2020 Lakeview Pioneer Lodge in Wakaw declared an outbreak of COVID-19. Lakeview Pioneer Lodge is a long-term care facility that is an affiliate organization of the Saskatchewan Health Authority and is home to 45 residents. In addition, the Lodge provides a day program for community members including personal care services, activities and a meal. LPL also has a room for palliative care and a respite care room as well as a family room. As an affiliate long term care home it is not owned by the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the SHA responded to our request for an update by saying questions about the status of the outbreak need to directed to Lakeview Pioneer Lodge. As of closing time Monday January 4, 2021, no reply had been forthcoming from the Lakeview Pioneer Lodge administration.
With staff and administration battling the COVID-19 outbreak at the Lakeview Pioneer lodge in Wakaw, calls have gone out to local paramedics and firefighters to help cover some duties during shifts. During the spring members of the Canadian Armed Forces were deployed into long-term care facilities in Quebec and Ontario and many in the public wondered what services they could provide. CAF members without medical training worked alongside medical and support staff to maintain staffing levels and help with infection prevention and control delivering personal protective equipment and other needed supplies, while those with the necessary medical training collaborated with the medical staff in the facilities supporting and providing care as needed and it would appear that this is the capacity in which the local paramedics and firefighter/paramedics are functioning. The Wakaw/Hoodoo Fire and Rescue confirmed that some of their members are providing supplemental staffing at the Lodge. “As of right now,” they responded when asked, “it’s our firefighters who are registered paramedics and medical first responders” who are involved. Wakaw EMS owner Steve Skoworodko confirmed they have been supplementing the staff at Lakeview Pioneer Lodge as well, “but front-line EMS is still our first priority” he said in a statement on Sunday January 3rd. “Any paramedics that do go in are wearing all appropriate protective equipment. We know this is a difficult time for staff and residents of Lakeview Pioneer Lodge,” he added.
With rumours running rampant it is important to remember that regardless how many residents and/or staff are impacted by the current outbreak, the families of everyone linked to the facility will feel like they are walking through a gauntlet and the best the community can do is to follow all the public health orders and check-in on neighbours living alone.
Update: A subsequent conversation with the Mennonite Nursing Home in Rosthern revealed that affiliate facilities such as themselves and Lakeview Pioneer Lodge had received numerous emails from the SHA instructing them to not answer questions from the media about outbreaks and all such enquiries should be redirected to the SHA. Another phone call to the SHA Media Relations department resulted in a confused response from them saying they did not understand why such instructions had been given and they would “check into it.” Until such time as the SHA decides to release the choke hold on information relating to the size of the outbreak at the Lodge, we in the community must wait and try not to jump to conclusions.
Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder